Pro-life activists Jean Marshall (73) and Joan Bell (74) were convicted on September 15 for blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic in October 2022 and now face 11 years in prison and fines up to $350,000 each.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Marshall and Bell “engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade” at a reproductive health care clinic in Washington, D.C., “to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services.”
The two were “among a group that forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes.” A jury found them guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act “by using a physical obstruction to injure, intimidate and interfere with the clinic’s employees and a patient.”
Tell us again Merrick Garland, how your DOJ is all "fair & objective?" Antifa thugs who burn police stations and businesses aren't arrested or jailed neither are those who threatened SCOTUS members at their homes. But THESE ladies? DANGER! Lock 'em up! https://t.co/1AiVNEtHfH— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) September 26, 2023
When conservative political commentator (and former Governor of Arkansas) Mike Huckabee saw photos of Marshall and Bell — two white women in their 70s with white hair — he wrote: “Tell us again Merrick Garland, how your DOJ is all ‘fair & objective?’ Antifa thugs who burn police stations and businesses aren’t arrested or jailed neither are those who threatened SCOTUS members at their homes. But THESE ladies? DANGER! Lock ’em up!“
Conservative media including the National Review claim the DOJ is “targeting pro-life activists” (the DOJ reportedly convicted 26 pro-lifers in 2022), and that the sentence for Marshall and Bell is too harsh “for a matter of hours” when the two women prevented the clinic from operating business.
Note: Marshall and Bell planned the “invasion of the clinic” from her homes in Massachusetts and New Jersey, respectively, travelled to D.C., and had another co-conspirator film the event and broadcast it on Facebook. Like any felony conspiracy against civil rights, it took more than “a matter of hours” to execute.
The criminal penalties for violating FACE vary according to the severity of the offense and the defendant’s prior record of similar violations. National Review reports that Bell has “been behind bars before.”
The Catholic Review reports that Bell, who “gained fame” for her “willingness to endure long terms of incarceration, including solitary confinement, after clinic blockade and trespassing convictions,” has served jail terms in the cities of Baltimore, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh as well as state prison in Pensacola, Florida.
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act is a United States law that was signed by President Bill Clinton in May 1994, which prohibits the following three things: (1) the use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate, interfere with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person who is obtaining an abortion, (2) the use of physical force, threat of physical force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate, interfere with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person who is exercising or trying to exercise their First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship, (3) the intentional damage or destruction of a reproductive health care facility or a place of worship.